The Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) – now Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA), Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, has said that the insistence for all Micro Medium and Small-Scale Industries (MSMEs) to access financial and technical support from her institution digitally was a means to introduce some form of digital solution into their operations.
According to her, the move for the first time introduced many MSMEs to digital platforms and the convenience they bring businesses. She noted that, so far, through the digital platform the GEA has received data from over 900,000 business across the country. This has offered a better picture of the nation’s MSME structure and interventions required to serve their needs.
Speaking at the Graphic-Access Bank SME Clinic on the theme ‘Boosting resilience with digital solutions’, Mrs. Yankey-Ayeh said: “GH¢500million has so far been disbursed to about 300,000 businesses. This has been done in record time because we did it digitally. The banks couldn’t have done this within the one-year period we did; with the help of our digital platforms, we have pulled this through to help sustain MSMEs in this time of COVID-19.
“When we decided that all applications should be done digitally, we faced a number of questions as to how to reach the interior – considering that many of them had no access to computers. But we asked them to fill paper forms and afterward we transferred all onto our digital platform. Many had to go through the system themselves to apply, and today we have rich data to draft initiatives to serve them better.”
She also added that her institution through its partner, Mastercard Foundation, further educated the businesses on available digital opportunities they can use to do business – as the new normal has migrated many services and products onto digital platforms.
For this to be successful, she noted, her institution had to prepare and spend huge sums to automate their structures as well as train personnel to efficiently man and adjust them when necessary to suit various planned initiatives.
She intimated that the NBSSI took a keen interest in building the capacity of its member-associations to be able to digitally store and keep data of individual members. As a result, over 70 laptops and printers were distributed to the associations last year.
“SMEs have been touted as the engine of growth, but little has been done to propel this engine of growth. For us at the Ghana Enterprise Agency, our goal is how best we can turn these MSMEs into engines of growth using digital solutions. As a result, there was a need for applications that can support SME payments, getting digital access to raw material and other products, and selling your products online,” Mrs. Yankey-Ayeh said.
The Graphic Business/Access Bank SME Clinic had other speakers such as the Divisional Head, Retail Banking at Access Bank, Stephen Abban; the Group Head of Business Banking at Access Bank, Kafui Bimpe; and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Seth Twum-Akwaboah.
They all shared their thoughts on how MSMEs can leverage digital platforms to accelerate their growth.